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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-07-30 - 3:58 p.m.

The Whole World is Watching

Election stakes are high this year -- for all of us in the United States, but they are high for the rest of the world, too. They are obviously high for the Middle East...but the choice between George W. Bush and John Kerry are perhaps even higher in Europe. Europe at this point may be willing to define the past three and a half years as just a difficult period -- an aberration. Another four years, however, might just cause Europe, as well as Al Queda, to define themselves as our enemy. We are simultaneously the most hated, feared, loved and admired nation on the planet. The current administration has not only frittered away the financial surplus it inherited from the Clinton administration, it has squandered the goodwill of much of the world. I had hoped that Madelein Albright would lay it out strongly, lay it out for all the world to see, because I believe this is a foreign policy election as critical for the world as it is for the U.S.

Just yesterday my grandson Max flew with his Little League tem to Inuyama City, Japan, Davis' sister city...for a cultural exchange - the first time a foreign Little League team has ever traveled to Japan for competition. The Davis players will be staying with host Japanese families. It's a big deal for the twelve baseball players, aged 10-12. I believe it's a big deal for our country, too. Our government for the past three and a half years has left our reputation stained abroad...not only because of the unilateral preemptive attack on Iraq, but because Bush's decision to drop out of international implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, as well. It is up to the people who travel abroad to do what they can to alleviate that tarnish, to give hope to the countries they visit.

Night before last John Edwards said it far better than I ever could - Hope is on the way!

Tonight -- tonight, as we celebrate in this hall, somewhere in America, a mother sits at her kitchen table. She can't sleep because she's worried. She can't pay her bills. She's working hard trying to pay her rent, trying to feed her kids, but she just can't catch up. Didn't used to be that way in her house. Her husband was called up in the Guard. Now he's been in Iraq for over a year. They thought he was going to come home last month, but now he's got to stay longer. She thinks she's alone. But tonight in this hall and in your homes, you know what? She's got a lot of friends. We want her to know that we hear her. It is time to bring opportuniity and an equal chance to her door.

We're here to make America stronger at home so that she can get ahead. And we're here to make America respected in the world again so that we can bring him home and American soldiers don't have to fight this war in Iraq or this war on terrorism alone.

So when you return home some night, you might pass a mother on her way to work the late-shift. You tell her: Hope is on the way.

When your brother calls -- when your brother calls and says that he's spending his entire life at the office and he still can't get ahead, you tell him: Hope is on the way.

When your parents call and tell you their medicine's going through the roof, they can't keep up, you tell them: Hope is on the way.

And when your neighbor calls you and says her daughter's worked hard and she wants to go to college, you tell her: Hope is on the way.

* * * * * * *

A little hokey - maybe. But I'll bet it tugged at the heartstrings of more than a few people all across this country -- at least those who were listening on C-SPAN, 'cause that was about the only place you could hear every word spoken from the podium. Mainstream TV chose to give the public regular fare except for an hour or so each of the four nights.

A message from Common Cause today:

The Big Three networks have decided that our democracy is bad for their business, which is why this week viewers were treated to worm munching (NBC's Fear Factor), puking (CBS's Big Brother 5) and liposuction (ABC's Extreme Makeover) instead of primetime convention coverage from Boston's Fleet Center.

This follows network news executives' decision to limit their coverage in Boston and New York to three hours per convention. Their justification: the public's interest has waned as national conventions have lost their drama and evolved into "carefully scripted political infomercials."

It's time Americans send the networks a clear message: By ignoring our democratic process -- at at time of the most divisive presidential election of our generation, when Americans are dying in our name overseas and threat of terrorism at home looms large -- ABC, NBC and CBS are doing a shameful disservice to the viewers they're legally obligated to serve.

It is not too much to ask networks that are granted free licenses to broadcast over publicly owned airwaves to use those airwaves to help educate the American public about the choices we as a nation face this November.

Tell network executives, newsroom managers and anchors that our democracy matters. You can log onto Common Cause and send them a clear message.

* * * * * * * *

Superstar Illinois Senate candidate Barack Obama reminded us: "In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?"

Senator Kerry has some ideas about global warning, too:

"Bush's abrupt and unilateral decision to abandon discussions with the world community on climate change was early evidence of this Administration's misguided approach to dealing with the community of nations. Dropping out of international implementation of the Kyoto Protocol was foolhardy then, and it is even more foolhardy today. In our absence, many of our major trading partners in Europe and elsewhere have been working on the details of international programs to manage greenhouse gas emissions. American interests are on the sidelines, having no ability to influence the development of a system that will profoundly affect the global approach to resource protection and investment in climate change technologies...."

In Senator Kerry's speech before the convetion last night,he pointed out that while America's safety looked much different four years ago, so did its economic security. Four years ago, the two parties debated how to spend the surplus that had been accumulated during the four years of the Democratic Clinton administration. This year there's no surplus...but a Kerry administration promises a thoughtful approach to improved health care and education by trimming the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

He promised to stop the outsourcing of jobs and the dependency on Middle East oil. I wish he'd given us more specifics about how he plans to accomplish these two feats. But if he hadn't said anything else, he won me over with this: "And as President, I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to."

And with this:

"And let me say it plainly: in that cause, and in this campaign, we welcome people of faith. America is not us and them. I think of what Ron Reagan said of his father a few weeks ago, and I want to say this to you tonight. I don't wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side. And whatever our faith, one belief should bind us all: The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country."

* * * * * * * * *

And from an Emily's List blog:

"Republicans in Florida seem to be conflicted about whether voters should have confidence in the state's new voting machines, Gov. Jeb Bush's position, or whether voters should seek absentee ballots that will leave an identifiable paper trail if there's a problem, as the state Republican party says they should.

Yes, the state REPUBLICAN party....An article in the St. Petersburg Times told of a flyer paid for by the state Republican party clearly laid out concerns about the new machines and urged Republican voters to vote absentee to ensure their votes would count.

* * * * * * * *

As Gore told the convention (and as we all know) - "Every vote counts!"

Let's go and vote because it matters. Let's each try to get some young people to register and vote. And then...let's concentrate on getting a Democratic congress elected, as well. And if you don't believe it matters, talk to the 900 families that lost their kids in Iraq. And to the thousands who will come home missing body parts.

And didn't your heart just sing when Rev. Al Sharpton extemporaneously (off-script!) explained to our President just why Afro-Americans so often vote Democratic? Republicans "promised us 40 acres and a mule"..."still don't have..." "until we do, we're gonna ride this donkey..."

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